This Rockhampton boxing instructor helps change lives

INSPIRATION: Boxing trainer Des Upton, pictured at the Rockhampton PCYC, has been helping shape the lives of youth across Central Queensland.
INSPIRATION: Boxing trainer Des Upton, pictured at the Rockhampton PCYC, has been helping shape the lives of youth across Central Queensland. Allan Reinikka Rokaboxing

Sticking with the Australia Day theme of remembering this country's legends, our friends at Bundaberg Rum give you the chance to put forward your memories of our sporting greats. Hit us up in the comments field below and tell us your favourite Des Upton story.

Meanwhile you can nominate your own local sporting legend and win prizes for yourself and them. More info here.

"DES Upton spends countless hours of his own time to help kids of all races and ages to be the best they can be."

"He is an inspiration to all that know him... The region should be proud to have such a legend in their area."

"He has certainly changed my life for the better and I am forever grateful for his time."

These comments are a cross section of those included in six separate nominations for Des in our sporting legends competition.

While the 78-year-old is humbled by and incredibly grateful for the raft of compliments the submissions contain, he says he doesn't do what he does for the accolades.

"I'd just like to thank them because I don't do it for the recognition; I just do it for the kids and the kids look after me," he said.

Des has dedicated his life to improving the lot of young men through his boxing and behavioural techniques.

A railway worker, Des started his selfless work in Mitchell before moving to Rockhampton, then to Bluff and Blackwater.

At age 65, he returned to Rockhampton, thinking he would not resume the program here.

But the youth of the city had different ideas.

Des explains that a couple of young guys asked if they could work with him and before he knew it, he had 20 young men training under his house.

Realising he had to find bigger premises, he moved to the Rockhampton PCYC where his program continues to flourish.

He uses boxing to help instil discipline, hard work and commitment.

But respect, he says, is the most important lesson.

"That's what it's all about - respect for yourself, respect for your opponent and respect for the people around you."

Des says while he uses boxing as an effective tool to shape the youngsters, he will never push them to fight competitively.

"I leave it up to the kids to make their own mind up," he said. "I won't push them."

But for those who do step into the ring, Des is always there with them and tries to never miss their fights.

As another of the nominations says: "Des trains young people four times a week as well as dedicating most weekends to travelling away to compete in boxing tournaments or fundraising to help support the club."

Des has trained more than 30 Australian champions in his time and says he couldn't count the number of individuals he has helped along the way.

But he is quick to point out that he gets so much in return.

"They are good kids; they do more for me than I do for them. They keep me young," he said.

"They have become my mates. They start here at the age of 15 and years on you are going to their weddings.

"It's just wonderful."

Topics:  boxing des upton pcyc

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